By Steve Sulgit
On November 7th, my wife and I embarked on a journey to Toyokawa Japan. As members of the City of Cupertino – Toyokawa Sister City Program, we had watched, over the course of several years, as the program sent student delegations each year. Upon their return, we heard many wonderful stories about the students’ adventures in Toyokawa, their interaction with the host families, and the indelible mark it left on them as they learned, experienced, and contributed to their visit to a new country. As member of the 35th year delegation, my wife and I looked forward to the same.
Our travel to Tokyo and then onto Nagoya, went without any problem. We were met at the Nagoya Airport by representatives of the Toyokawa Program, and then traveled by bus to Toyokawa City Hall, to meet our host family. Imagine our surprise to see many of their program members waiting for us, with welcoming signs and banners.
We met up with Naomi Satake, and her husband Hiroyuki. Naomi stayed at our home when she came to visit in July, as the City of Toyokawa representatives visited our fair city. Tired, from many hours of traveling, we settled in for a good night’s sleep, and the anticipation of a new adventure the following day. Imagine our surprise to also meet up with Yoneko Fukushima, also a guest at our home last July.
The weekend brought a wonderful and exciting visit to a nearby village, as they celebrated an annual event, and then a visit to the B-1 Food Grand Prix, a celebration of the many different foods and cooking styles of Japan. Even though it rained, the spirits of all the people attending was not diminished at all, and we talked with many people, and experienced an event that few, from our part of the world, would ever get to visit.
Our visit, during the week, to the Toyota Motor Factory, the new Toyokawa City Hospital, Ise Island Temple, and several local parks and businesses, surpassed anything we could have expected. The people of Toyokawa welcomed us with smiles and friendship. Our reception was especially wonderful when our hosts provided my wife with her own kimono to wear to the dinner that night, something that she will never forget.
We look forward to traveling to this wonderful, and warm, country again. We could not have had a better visit, learned more in one week, and done more in that week, without the kindness of our host family, the Satake’s. Japan is much more than just a place to visit. It is a destination, a culture of history, warmth, and friendship, and we will return.
Steve and Terri Sulgit
2013 Cupertino – Toyokawa Delegation